Courtney, Kushner Spar Over ‘Lincoln’

Posted February 8, 2013 at 5:52pm

Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney thanked  Tony Kushner for acknowledging the factual inaccuracy about the lawmaker’s home state of Connecticut in his “Lincoln” screenplay, even though the playwright and screenwriter blasted the congressman’s approach to the issue.

“I am pleased that Mr. Kushner conceded that his ‘Lincoln’ screenplay got it wrong on the Connecticut delegation’s votes for the 13th Amendment,” Courtney said in a statement. “My effort from the beginning has been to set the record straight on this vote, so people do not leave the theater believing Connecticut’s representatives in the 38th Congress were on the wrong side of history.”

But Kushner, who conceded the point in a letter published Friday by The Wall Street Journal, said the decision to have some Connecticut representatives vote against ratification of the amendment that ended slavery was a matter of artistic license.

“I’m sorry if anyone in Connecticut felt insulted by these 15 seconds of the movie, although issuing a Congressional press release startlingly headlined ‘Before The Oscars …’ seems a rather flamboyant way to make that known,” Kushner wrote.

In Kushner’s portrayal, representatives voted in order of state, meaning that Connecticut’s members voted rather early in the process.

“The closeness of that vote and the means by which it came about was the story we wanted to tell,” Kushner wrote. “In making changes to the voting sequence, we adhered to time-honored and completely legitimate standards for the creation of historical drama, which is what Lincoln is.”

Kushner and Director Steven Spielberg should not have too much trouble, however. Congressional procedure expert Sarah Binder of the Brookings Institution and George Washington University has already anointed it the “Best film ever about … the House of Representatives!”

Nonetheless, Courtney said Friday he would continue to push for a correction when the movie comes out on Blu-ray and DVD.